How Does Shakespeare Explore Nature In King Lear?

2026 words - 8 pages

William Shakespeare wrote 'King Lear' in, circa 1605, basing the play on the diverse concept of nature. Nature has several different definitions: the basic character of a person is described within their nature, animals and the physical environment around us are classed as nature, and the way in which human's react is expressed as human nature. Human nature is seen to be the expected and normal way in which to conduct yourself, behave and feel in different situations. The word 'natural' is also used to describe something that is innate, ordinary and most accepted. The notion of Nature in 'King Lear' can be interpreted using several different perceptions throughout the play, from Kingship through to personal human relations, from representations of the physical world to notions of the heavenly realm, from the portrayal of human nature to the use of animal imagery. Each of these images of nature accumulates to in some way assist or alter the fundamental hierarchy of the natural social order within the Kingdom of 'King Lear'. In 'King Lear' men are never represented in isolation, but always in relation to the divine hierarchy, the physical world and the world of animals.The Elizabethan age, in which play was written, was not known for its unity due to the unpopular change within the monarchy and strong political beliefs among citizens. It was a time of revolution after Elizabeth I never married and therefore never left an heir to the throne. Without a 'natural' heir to the throne humans would be forced to decide the next monarch rather than the gods and The Divine Right Of Kings, upsetting the supposed natural order of the nation. During that period the thinking of man, his nature and his place in the universe was an incorporation of Christian and Pagan philosophies. The main dogma in this era was the idea of natural, unyielding order, where the supernatural, divine being of God imposed order over men. Shakespeare uses 'King Lear' to explore how nature affects natural order within a society, as a portrayal of the monarchical upheaval and social beliefs at the time.Gloucester also expresses this idea of the gods controlling the recent events within the kingdom and remarks that humans are just toys with which the gods play:"As flies are we to wanton boys are we to the gods" 4.1.38Gloucester points out that their lives are just part of a cruel game which the gods are domineering. He suggests that they are torturing them by rearranging the order from its natural state just for "their sport".In 'King Lear' the characters, as religious beliefs encourage, are seen to ask the gods for forgiveness after sinning. In act three Gloucester seeks gods' absolution after doubting his legitimate son, Edgar."Kind gods, forgive me" 3.7.91This statement exemplifies the cycle of human nature: indulgence, repentance, and restoration. This cycle can be seen to happen throughout the play. King Lear symbolizes the nature of humans and the instinct to sin and later ask...

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